I saw that Al Mohler recently posted his annual summer reading list, comprised of ten books that he wants to read in the coming months. My fellowship group at UCLA just collected its staff members top recommendations and created a list for students who want some direction as to what to read this summer. I decided to do something similar: the following books aren’t recommendations, just a list of what I will be reading this summer. (They are in rough expected reading order.)
1. Desiring God by John Piper: I’ve read this book before, and for me, this book is a paradigm-shifter. I remember thinking, “You mean I glorify God the most by enjoying Him?” Before this book, I thought that serving and glorifying God would be through arduous tasks that I marginally enjoyed. Piper taught me that I glorify God the most when I value and enjoy Him above all else. I worry that I’ll forget this fact, so I try to read this book twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter.
2. Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin: A book by the director of Sovereign Grace Music about musical worship. If I think really hard about musical worship, a lot of questions come to mind: Why are we mandated to do musical worship? What is its function? What is its best form? This book is geared toward those who lead worship, but I suspect that it will be a good book for anyone who wants to develop a greater understanding of musical worship. Review forthcoming.
3. Prepared by Grace, for Grace by Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley: Beeke and Smalley look at what the Puritans thought about preparatory grace. I’ve long had the question, “What is the right motive for accepting the gospel?” because the answer to that question has major implications for how we present the gospel. The subtitle to this book is: “The Puritans on God’s Ordinary Way of Leading Sinners to Christ.” Understanding how God prepares a sinner’s heart to express saving faith should also cause us to think about how we talk about the gospel, and I look forward to having my method of presenting the gospel challenged and refined. Review forthcoming.
4. Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney: A modern classic. Mahaney looks at what it means to live a life that is fixated on the cross. Believers never grow past the gospel; in fact, they continue to mature in their understanding of it and it becomes an increasingly greater part of their everyday life. I need help, as I always will, in remembering the love and grace displayed at the cross so that I can live in light of that by worshipping God and showing love and grace to others. Review forthcoming.
5. Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper: A series of sermons and missionary send-offs this year has begun to cultivate in me a passion for global missions. This being Piper’s foremost book on missions, I thought I would take some time this summer and read a whole book to think about this. I love the way Piper thinks and how passionate he is about the glory of God, and I hope to fan the flame of missions in my heart so that no matter if I send or go, I will be ardently committed to seeing Him worshipped among the nations.
6. The Cup and the Glory by Greg Harris: Written by a professor at The Master’s Seminary about suffering. It has been enthusiastically recommended by many of the staff at my fellowship, including a couple who fought against a rare form of cancer. I’ve gone through a few difficult times this past year, so I know that it is important to develop a theology of suffering before you suffer. Things are painful and personal in the middle of suffering, so it becomes that much more difficult to put faith in the Word–this is the very definition of “trial.” Know what to think during suffering before it happens.
7. The Mortification of Sin by John Owen: I tried to read this when I was an unbeliever. It was incredibly difficult. To start with, Owen was a puritan, so the language and syntax is somewhat archaic. Moreover, for an unbeliever to read about how to put sin to death is nonsensical–why should he kill the thing he holds most dear? Now, on this side of salvation, I have a desire to mortify sin, and I look forward to laboring through this book to see the “why”s and “how”s Owen sets forth in regards to fighting sin.
8. God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper/Jonathan Edwards: Another book by a puritan, and another book I attempted to read–although this one as a believer. This book is comprised of two parts: the first is a biography of Edwards by John Piper, and the second is a reprint of Edwards’s text, “The End for which God Created the World.” This text has been fundamental to Piper’s theology on most glorifying God in our satisfaction in Him, and has also been recommended to me by a GOC staff member, and I want to read the original text that helped Piper write Desiring God. Edwards’ language is difficult and his logic is extremely nuanced, so it’s not the easiest read, but I have no doubts that it will be worth it.
9. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp: I read this last summer, and I remember the main point: “Address the underlying heart issue behind sin, not just the outward expressed action.” Not only do I need this lesson again because I might be a small group leader, but correcting and counseling are things that every believer will have to do as we seek to build each other up into the image and headship of Christ. I need the reminder this book will provide on how to counsel biblically, and all the details that I’ve forgotten since reading this for the first time. Review forthcoming.
10. Future Grace by John Piper: Another paradigm-shifter–and I don’t use that term lightly! This book has taught me more about what it means to live by faith than any other sermon or text apart outside of Scripture. God has provided promises for us that we are to trust. This book taught me that faith is everything in our walk as believers: we will either trust that God is as good and satisfying and that His promises are sure, or we will turn to sin as the alternative. I don’t think that the book necessarily needs to be read again, but I’m happy to do so if I have the time. Also, I’ve been meaning to review this book for a long time for you readers, so I look forward to doing that for you. Review forthcoming.
11. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper: Though it is short, I think this book will provide a helpful supplement to Desiring God. The book Future Grace is, in my mind, more readily applicable and live-able than Desiring God is. I’m hoping that this book will provide me a greater understanding of how to desire God and to savor Jesus Christ. This one was recommended to me by my fellowship’s shepherd, so I am eager to see how it has shaped his thinking and how it will shape mine.